Why should I have a screening colonoscopy?
In 2021 alone, an estimated 149,500 people will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer, a highly preventable disease. A screening colonoscopy is a cancer screening test used to look for a condition when a person doesn’t have symptoms. Early screening and detection are the keys to preventing colorectal cancer. Do you know how to prevent colorectal cancer? Continue reading to learn essential facts about colorectal cancer prevention and the importance of screening.
Let’s start with a few questions.
- Do you know who gets colorectal cancer? Is it men, women, or both? If you said both, you are correct. Colorectal cancer does not discriminate. It affects both men and women of all races and ethnic groups.
- Does getting screened for colorectal cancer help you prevent getting the disease? If you answered “yes,” you are correct again. Screening helps physicians find precancerous polyps (abnormal growths) in the colon and rectum, and they are removed before they turn into cancer. Screening also helps find colorectal cancer early, when treatment works best.
- Last question. If you don’t have any symptoms, it means you don’t have colorectal cancer, and you don’t need to be screened, correct? Not necessarily. Colorectal polyps and colorectal cancer don’t always cause symptoms, especially early on. But screening can find polyps and colorectal cancer even before symptoms appear. That’s why getting screened regularly for colorectal cancer is so important.
Getting a colonoscopy is essential because not only is it a screening test for cancer, but it also offers treatment at the same time. By getting a colonoscopy, we can remove precancerous lesions before they become problematic. Precancerous lesions of the colon take around ten years to develop into cancer. By getting a colonoscopy at the appropriate intervals, we can prevent a great deal of colon cancer, the second leading cancer killer in the United States and the third most common cancer in men and women. Even though technology has advanced and our ability to detect cancers has become more sophisticated, we still have very few tests that are as good as colonoscopy at offering screening and treatment all in one go.
Who should have a colonoscopy?
Most people should begin screening for colorectal cancer soon after turning 50, then continue getting screened at regular intervals. However, you may need to be tested earlier than 50, or more often than other people, if—
- You or a close relative have had colorectal polyps or colorectal cancer.
- You have an inflammatory bowel disease such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis.
- You have a genetic syndrome such as familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) or hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer (Lynch syndrome).
Millions of people in the United States are not getting screened as recommended. They miss the chance to prevent colorectal cancer or find it early when treatment often leads to a cure. If you have questions about colorectal cancer or want more information about getting a colonoscopy screening, contact our office at
419-627-0207 or visit us at Firelands Gastroenterology.
Information provided by the CDC website and Cameron Ditty, M.D.
Gastroenterologist, Firelands Physician Group